Saturday, January 14, 2017


13 JANUARY 2017

The announcement of the new Chief Minister today is welcome news. We appreciate the fact that the appointment was made without delay to ensure continuing smooth administration of the state and to avoid speculations.

Datuk Amar Abang Johari is an experienced leader, being a nine-term assemblyman. I believe he has come to understand the matters that are of great concern to the people of Sarawak from what Tan Sri Adenan Satem had prioritised, which gave him the popular vote from Sarawakians. We hope he will continue where the late Chief Minister left off and forge ahead with issues that were close to Adenan Satem’s heart, such as autonomy, petroleum royalty, education and illegal logging, just to name a few. In particular, we are optimistic that he will maintain our right to freedom of religion as championed by Adenan Satem and also pursue the NCR land issue that has been burdening the native communities. We call upon him, as one of his first acts in office, to ensure that the Land Code is amended to incorporate the concept of pemakai menoa and pulau galau as NCR land. This will be a very meaningful and momentous start to his role as Chief Minister of Sarawak, and signal to the people that he truly has their interests at heart.

On a personal level, I have always found Abang Johari to be very approachable and I look forward to working together with him for a better Sarawak.

The appointment of Datuk Amar Abang Johari augurs well for the political stability of Sarawak. My party members and I offer our heartiest congratulations to the new Chief Minister of Sarawak.

Baru Bian
Chairman, PKR Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

'Voters not entitled to know how EC decided on redelineation'

Hafiz Yatim     Published     Updated

The Court of Appeal today ruled that voters cannot get information from the Election Commission over how it arrived on the process of redelineation.

In an unanimous decision, the appellate court in Putrajaya also ruled that lawyer and activist Haris Ibrahim had not pleaded how his rights would be infringed by the EC's decision.

Justice Zamani A Rahim who wrote the judgment said the absence of federal legislation regarding freedom of information compared to in India and Canada also resulted in such information cannot be given.

"Based on the above, (Haris') appeal is without merit and should be refused. It is a challenge to the constitutional duties of the EC as specified under Article 113 of the Federal Constitution," he said.

“There is nothing in both the Federal Constitution and the Election Act 1958 or other express statutory provisions which require the respondent (EC) to do what the appellant is asking for from the court,” he said.

Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who led the panel that also consisted of Justice Ahmadi Asnawi and Justice Zamani, made no order as to costs.

The court made the decision despite Haris' lawyers telling the court that their client had a right to freedom of information based on his right on Article 10 regarding freedom of expression.

Haris told reporters with the decision today what it meant is that the people must continue to pressure with reforms of the various institutions including EC.

He said he will seek advice over the next course of action on whether to appeal to the Federal Court.

The lawyer and activist said the result of redelineation is that in his constituency of Petaling Jaya Selatan, which originally had 90,000 voters, would now become Petaling Jaya with about 150,000 voters.

"My votes are now diluted as a result of this", he said, adding his constituency of PJ Selatan and Bukit Gasing state seat, had seen Taman Medan and Seri Setia entering into his constituency. 

Lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar appeared for Haris while senior federal counsel Suzana Atan appeared for EC.

May affect other cases
Malik said the decision today may have a bearing on other existing challenges on the present EC redelineation exercise in Peninsular Malaysia.

At present there are several people including politicians like Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar who had filed a judicial review application to challenge the EC redelineation.

Haris further commented that a foreign newspaper had commented about Malaysia's gerrymandering, which saw 52 per cent of voters who voted against the prime minister Najib Abdul Razak's government

“Don't tell me that the voters are wrong and they have no right to ask EC to provide the information,” he said.

“If we look at India, the largest democracy with 600 million voters, their commission's website provides all the information that one seek for including the maps, the number of voters and others.

"However, in Malaysia with our EC, we cannot ask for the information and when we ask the court, we are also unsuccessful," he said.

"It is truly troubling that we are in the 21st century, and the EC can shove anything down our throat and we are expected to keep quiet, he said.

The activist added that he liked Pandan MP, Rafizi Ramli's Invoke initiative and hence, was supporting it by delivering a talk in Johor.

Invoke, is an apolitical NGO for Malaysians who are eager to contribute for a change of government
Malik had in last October in Haris' appeal, told the court that EC must furnish details of how it arrived at a decision to redelineate certain areas to explain how come some constituencies having bigger number of voters, with some even seeing a ten-fold increase, while others less.
This was despite the Federal Constitution stating that the electoral body should ensure there is at least an equal number of voters in each constituency, he pointed out.

It was reported two years ago that the Kuala Lumpur High Court had dismissed Haris' application to compel the EC to furnish details of the redelineation exercise for all constituencies in its website.

The High Court judge ruled that Haris did not have the locus standi (legal standing) to initiate this originating summons to compel the EC to provide details of other constituencies.

~ Malaysiakini

Australian police are helping with 1MDB investigations

Published     Updated

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said today they are working with international law enforcement agencies to investigate companies associated with Malaysia's scandal-hit sovereign wealth fund.

1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), founded by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, is the subject of money-laundering investigations in at least six other countries, including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

Civil lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice allege more than US$3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB. The lawsuits seek to seize US$1 billion in assets allegedly siphoned off from 1MDB and diverted into luxury real estate in New York, Beverly Hills and London, valuable paintings and a private jet.

Najib, who also chaired 1MDB's advisory board, has denied wrongdoing and said Malaysia would cooperate with international investigations. 1MDB has also denied wrongdoing.

'AFP is aware of allegations'
The AFP is responsible for investigating breaches of proceeds of crime laws by Australian companies, citizens and residents.

"The AFP is aware of allegations relating to companies associated with 1MDB and have assisted our foreign law enforcement partners with their investigations in relation to a number of these matters," the AFP said in an emailed statement.

"As the AFP continues to evaluate these allegations, it would not be appropriate to provide any further comment at this time," it said.

The AFP did not respond to Reuters' questions about reports they were investigating on whether any financial gains from the scandal were in Australia or with which international agencies it was working.

Singaporean authorities have frozen the assets of Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, commonly known as Jho Low, who has not been charged with any offence related to 1MDB but has been identified as a person of interest in related investigations.

Singapore prosecutors filed 16 charges last week against the former local branch manager of Swiss-based Falcon Private Bank AG as part of their investigations into 1MDB.

Authorities in the city-state jailed two former bankers from Swiss wealth manager BSI last year on several charges, including forgery and failure to disclose suspicious transactions involving Jho Low.

- Reuters

SGH Accident and Emergency Department needs further improvement — Baru

KUCHING: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian wants the condition of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here be improved further.

The state PKR chairman said he was at the unit last week when one of his relatives was admitted for treatment.

“The experience left me feeling grateful and sad at the same time. (I’m) grateful and full of admiration for the doctors, nurses and staff members who work incredibly hard – and sad that they are required to work in such a challenging environment,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
He observed that there were people standing around there, waiting anxiously for updates on their relatives who had been taken into the restricted waiting area.

“In the case of my relative, it was a five-hour wait until she got into the ward. I was given to understand that sometimes, the wait could be longer than that. It appears that the long waiting time and overcrowded waiting area are the norms at the A&E. The place reminds me of a fish market – for wanting of a better term.”

According to Baru, the A&E Department is an area that needs special attention from the government, as it is a place of life or death, saying ‘more often than not, everyone wants life to be the outcome’.

“However, the whole atmosphere was one of stress and tension. The crowds of anxious relatives were in the way of the medical personnel who had to make their way through. The staff members are doing their best but they cannot be expected to perform at the optimum level if the environment is not conducive to delivering efficient and effective A&E care.”

Baru said people could expect that with the worsening economy and depreciated purchasing power of the ringgit, more and more people who previously went to private healthcare facilities would turn to public hospitals.

He said if based on the statement by Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya in October last year, who said the rate of visits to public healthcare services had increased and the record was higher than that registered the year before, he wondered how much more the A&E could cope with before reaching the breaking point.

“In the last State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting, we were informed that as at Oct 31, 2016, the progress of Petra Jaya Hospital (project) was 42.51 per cent towards completion, when it should have been 78.18 per cent.

“On Oct 13, 2016, State Health Department director Dr Jamilah Hashim was reported to have said that the new completion date would be June 2017. Two days later, the Public Works Department headquarters in Kuala Lumpur was reported to have revealed that the contractor had committed to completing the project by the end of 2017 – it’s expected that the contractor would apply for another extension.

“However, it appears that works on the hospital have come to a complete standstill – apparently due to issues with payment. The minister concerned should update the people about what is happening there.”

Meanwhile, Baru said he had been informed that plans for the new parking block at SGH included a better and more spacious A&E unit on one of the floors.

“The project was supposed to start as far back as 2013 or even earlier, but it has been plagued by countless delays and cost escalations. Why has this situation been allowed to carry on for so long?”

“The Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) and his federal government have let us down in the budget, despite all the promises made during the elections. I hope the state government would step in to expedite matters.”

In the meantime, Baru said the A&E at the SGH was in need of ‘some emergency help’ itself and as such, he called upon the government to provide some relief to them pending the delivery of the Petra Jaya Hospital and the extension of the SGH.

~ Borneo Post

Defence counsel wants judge to recuse from hearing Bill Kayong murder case

Two of the four accused in the murder of  Bill Kayong – Datuk Stephen Lee (wearing mask, second left) and Chin Wui Chung (left) being escorted by police to the police truck after the mention of the case at the High Court yesterday.
Two of the four accused in the murder of Bill Kayong – Datuk Stephen Lee (wearing mask, second left) and Chin Wui Chung (left) being escorted by police to the police truck after the mention of the case at the High Court yesterday.

MIRI: The Miri High Court yesterday postponed the case mention of the four accused in the murder of PKR secretary, Bill Kayong.

Judicial Commissioner Dr Alwi Abdul Wahab made the decision after Ranbir Singh Sangha, the defence counsel for the accused, wanted the presiding judge to recuse himself from hearing the case.
Ranbir, the defence counsel for the first accused Mohamad Fitri Pauzi and second accused Lie Chang Loon, said a letter dated Jan 3, 2017 was addressed to Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, requesting for a new judge to hear the case.

Ranbir, however, did not inform the court the reason for the request to change to a new judge.

Alwi had not fixed the new date for further mention of the case as it might be heard by the new judge.
Deputy public prosecutor Kamal Baharin Omar appeared for the prosecution.

Businessman Datuk Stephen Lee Chee Kiang, 45, Lee’s personal assistant Chin Wui Chung, 50, and pub owner Lie Chang Loon,37, claimed trial to abetting bouncer Mohamad Fitri, 29, in murdering Bill, whose Muslim name was Mohd Hasbie Abdullah.

They allegedly committed the offence at the traffic light intersection near E-Mart Supermarket at the Jalan Kuala Baram bypass around 8.20am on June 21, 2016.

They were charged under Section 109, read together with Section 302 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

The first accused, Mohamad Fitri, also pleaded not guilty to killing Bill at the same place, time and date, as charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code. — Bernama

Clearing the doubt

Baru asks Adenan to state his view on amendment to Income Tax Act 1967
Baru Bian
Baru Bian

KUCHING: State PKR chairman Baru Bian has described it as ‘fitting and commendable’ if Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem were to announce that he stands with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman in opposing the Income Tax Act 1967 amendment that sought to impose taxes on non-Muslim religious bodies.

Baru, who is Ba Kelalan assemblyman, noted that Adenan had not made a stand on this issue since the amendment was announced.

“The Chief Minister of Sarawak has not made a stand on this issue since the amendment was announced. It would be fitting and commendable if he were to announce that he stands with the Chief Minister of Sabah in opposing this amendment that seeks to impose taxes on non-Muslim religious bodies.

“This would be in line with his commitment to be a Chief Minister for all Sarawakians regardless of race, ethnicity or religion,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Baru said it was interesting to note that Musa had said that he was against the taxation of non-Muslim religious bodies, in the interest of upholding religious freedom and promoting harmony among the diverse community groups.

In urging non-Muslim religious bodies in Sabah to remain calm and not speculate on the issue of tax exemption, Musa said that while he understood that the objective of the tax amendment was to curb abuse of religious donations for personal gain by unscrupulous parties, the Sabah state government opposed the move.

Musa said the Sabah state government viewed the issue seriously because some could misconstrue the move as being against all churches or non-Muslim religious organisations.

Baru said it appeared that everyone was confused about this, even the ministers, as the statements made by them seemed to be contradictory.

“The second Finance Minister (Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani) said very clearly that the amendment is to tax religious institutions that use donations for investments to generate profit.

“However, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said recently that taxes will be imposed only on individuals using religion to benefit themselves.”

Baru said it was obvious that the people needed a detailed explanation from the relevant minister on the intention of this amendment and the impact of it.

“Although it seems that the impact of this amendment is still not clear, we (PKR) are opposed to the taxation of religious institutions that have always enjoyed exemptions from paying taxes.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Othman Aziz clarified that the amendment to the Income Tax Act 1967 was not to impose religious bodies to pay tax, but rather to ensure their income is specifically used for religious and charitable purposes.

Othman stressed the amendment applied to all religious bodies, Muslim and non-Muslim, in order to qualify for tax exemption starting with this year’s assessment.

“Tax exemption (on religious bodies) is a way for us to ensure income, such as from donations, is used for charitable, preaching and worship activities. This is to avoid misuse by certain quarters to solicit donation for other purposes under the mask of a religious body,” he told reporters when met at a briefing on the 2017 Budget in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

The amendment to the Act that had most religious  bodies confused, especially the non-Muslim organisations, involved paragraph 13(1)(b) of Schedule 6 of the Act, which specifies tax exemption only applies to contributions received by non-profit religious organisations and religious institutions solely used for charitable purposes.

Othman noted the amendment on the Act could address concerns over militant activities funded by donations.

He also said there were certain individuals earning more than RM10,000 a month who did not declare their income, citing that they worked with a religious body that was exempted from paying tax.

~ Borneo Post

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Allah sangat mengasihi orang di dunia ini, sehingga Ia memberikan Anak-Nya yang tunggal, supaya setiap orang yang percaya kepada-Nya tidak binasa, melainkan beroleh hidup yang kekal. ~ John 03:16 (For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16)
Setiap tahun sekitar masa Krismas, saya diingatkan kasih Tuhan dan pemberian kasih sayangNya kepada kami. Kasih sayang, sebenarnya, benang emas yang berjalan melalui kitab dari masa manusia jatuh di dalam Taman Eden sehingga akhirnya. Kasih sayang adalah intipati dan asas kepada iman Kristian kita.
Pada mulanya, seperti yang diceritakan dalam Genesis, sebagaimana Allah menghukum Adam dan Hawa untuk ketidaktaatan mereka, dia juga mempunyai rancangan untuk menyelamatkan manusia.
"Aku akan mengadakan permusuhan antara engkau dan perempuan ini, antara keturunanmu dan keturunannya; keturunannya akan meremukkan kepalamu, dan engkau akan meremukkan tumitnya. "~ Genesis 3:15. Dalam ayat ini, rancangan Tuhan untuk keselamatan kita diturunkan. Walaupun selepas Adam dan Hawa jatuh ke dalam dosa, Allah telah merancangkan rancangan-Nya untuk keselamatan mereka. Melalui Yesus, "keturunan perempuan itu," Setan akan dikalahkan ( 'dihancurkan'), melalui kebangkitan Yesus dari kematian. Tetapi dalam proses ini Yesus akan terluka iaitu penyaliban ( 'menarik daripada tumitnya'). Begitulah kasih Tuhan bahawa Dia tidak akan membenarkan manusia untuk dihukum tanpa jalan keluar, yang percaya kepada Allah dan kerja-kerja siap Yesus pada Calvary.
Mesej Krismas masih relevan hari ini, mungkin lebih-lebih lagi. Ia menggalakkan kita untuk mencontohi kasih Tuhan, untuk hidup dalam kasih sayang setiap hari, untuk memberi kepada orang lain yang memerlukan dan kurang bernasib baik. Ajaran Kristian berpusat pada perkataan 'cinta'.
Saya masih ingat petikan dalam Alkitab di mana seorang peguam satu hari bertanya kepada Yesus "apa yang harus aku buat untuk memperoleh hidup yang kekal?"; "Kasihilah Tuhan, Allahmu, dengan segenap hatimu dan dengan segenap jiwamu dan dengan segenap kekuatanmu dan dengan segenap akal budimu dan mengasihi sesama manusia seperti diri sendiri".
Peguam yang hanya mahu membenarkan dirinya bertanya kembali; "Dan siapakah sesamaku manusia?" Ini mendorong Yesus untuk memberitahu orang ramai tentang perumpamaan orang yang baik di mana seorang Lewi dan imam lalu di hadapan seorang lelaki yang cedera dipercayai menjadi Yahudi, tetapi seorang amak berhenti untuk membantu beliau, walaupun orang-orang Yahudi dan orang amal itu telah dikenali untuk membenci antara satu sama lain. Apabila Yesus akhirnya bertanya kepada rakyat, "/siapa yang merupakan jiran kepada orang itu?" Peguam itu jawab dengan betuk: "Orang yang menaruh belas kasihan kepada dia". Orang yang mengasihani dikenali sebagai orang yang baik.(the good Samaritan).
Kita diajar untuk mengambil berat tentang orang lain dan mengasihi mereka, walaupun mereka adalah berbeza dari kami. Seperti Samaritan, kita dipanggil untuk mengasihi orang-orang yang memerlukan, kerana mereka adalah jiran kita. Bagi orang Kristian, kasih sayang tidak membezakan dengan bangsa dan agama; sesungguhnya, ia adalah satu konsep yang tanpa sempadan. Pada masa ini apabila ramai yang dipanggil untuk mengambil berat dengan hanya 'kaum sendiri', sama ada merujuk kepada agama, bangsa atau masyarakat, cerita Krismas adalah relevan dan tepat pada masanya. Apabila kita diberitahu supaya menjauhkan diri daripada hal ehwal orang lain, kerana mereka kononnya tidak berkaitan kami, cinta orang Khristian dan tanggunjawab harus mengingatkan kita untuk bercakap bagi orang-orang yang tidak dapat bercakap untuk diri mereka sendiri. Berdiam (Silence) itu bukan satu pilihan.
Kasih Allah memberi inspirasi kepada kita kepercayaan bahawa ada sebab untuk meraikan walaupun pada seketika masa kita tidak faham mengapa kita dimasukkan melalui ujian dan seksaan.
Rakan peguam saya dan saya baru sahaja kehilangan kes penting di Mahkamah Persekutuan yang sangat berrelevan kepada anak negeri Sarawak. Semua kemenanganyang kami telah memenangi mengenai hak-hak adat rakyat nampaknya telah dipadamkan oleh satu keputusan ini. Walau bagaimanapun, saya tidak melihatnya sebagai satu pengakhiran kepada perjuangan kita. Masih ada ruang untuk kita dan kita mesti melakukan apa yang perlu dilakukan, mempercayai sepenuhnya bahawa Tuhan bekerja semua perkara bersama-sama untuk kebaikan mereka yang mengasihi Dia, yang dipanggil mengikut tujuan-Nya. [~ Romans 8:28]
Cabaran terbaru berfungsi sebagai peringatan yang kuat bahawa isu-isu yang kita hadapi setiap hari itu hanyalah perkara-perkara duniawi. Dalam dunia yang tidak sempurna ini, kita tidak boleh mengharapkan hasil yang sempurna setiap masa. Isu yang lebih penting adalah mesej kasih sayang Krismas, bahawa Tuhan mengasihi kita begitu banyak bahawa Dia telah mengutus Anak-Nya supaya kita beroleh hidup yang kekal. Dengan ini dalam fikiran, kita tidak boleh berputus asa, tetapi meneruskan perjuangan kita, mengetahui dan mempercayai bahawa kebenaran dan keadilan akan terserlah akhirnya.
Saya ingin mengucapkan kepada semua umat Kristian, Krismas diberkati dan kepada semua, Selamat Tahun Baru.
Baru Bian
Pengerusi, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 'Ba' Kelalan



For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Each year around Christmas time, I am reminded of God’s love and His giving to us in this love. Love is, in fact, the golden thread that runs through the bible from time man fell in the Garden of Eden until the very end. Love is the very essence and bedrock of our Christian faith.

In the beginning, as told in Genesis, even as God punished Adam and Eve for their disobedience, he also had a plan to save mankind. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  ~ Genesis 3:15. In this verse, God’s plan for our salvation was revealed. Even after Adam and Eve fell into sin, God had devised His plan for their Salvation. Through Jesus, “the seed of the woman”, Satan would be defeated (‘crushed’), through Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. But in this process Jesus would be wounded i.e the crucifixion (‘striking of his heel’). Such was God’s love that He would not allow mankind to be condemned without a way of escape, which is trusting in Him and the finished works of Jesus on Calvary.

The message of Christmas is still relevant today, perhaps even more so. It encourages us to emulate God’s love, to live in love daily, to give to others who are in need and less fortunate than us. This Christian teaching is centered on the word ‘love’. I recall the passage in the Bible where a lawyer one day asked Jesus “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself”. The lawyer who wanted to justify himself asked back; “And who is my neighbour?” This prompted Jesus to tell the people about the parable of the Good Samaritan where a Levite and a priest walked past an injured man believed to be Jew, but a Samaritan stopped to help him, even though Jews and Samaritans were known to despise each other. When Jesus finally asked the people, “who was a neighbour to the injured man?” the lawyer correctly answered “The one who had mercy on him”. The one who had mercy became known as the Good Samaritan.

We are taught to be concerned about others and to love them, even if they are different from us. Like the Samaritan, we are called to love those who are in need, as they are our neighbours. For Christians, love does not distinguish by race or religion; indeed, it is a concept without boundaries. At this time when many are called to be concerned with only ‘their own kind’, be it in reference to religion, race or community, the Christmas story is relevant and timely. When we are told to keep out of others’ affairs, as they purportedly do not concern us, Christian love and duty behoves us to speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves. Silence is not an option.

The love of God inspires in us a belief that there is reason to celebrate even if at times we do not understand why we are put through trials and tribulations. My legal colleagues and I have just lost a landmark case at the Federal Court that is of great relevance to the natives of Sarawak. All the victories we have won on native customary rights of the people appear to have been obliterated by this one decision. However, I do not see it as an end to our struggle. There is still an avenue for us and we must do what needs to be done, fully believing that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. [~ Romans 8:28]

This newest challenge serves as a powerful reminder that the issues we face daily are but temporal matters. In this imperfect world, we cannot expect perfect results every time. The more significant issue is the Christmas message of love, that God loved us so much that He sent His only son so that we may have eternal life. With this in mind, we must never despair, but proceed with our cause, knowing and trusting that truth and justice will prevail eventually.

I wish all Christians a blessed Christmas and to all, a Happy New Year.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81’ Ba’ Kelalan

Monday, December 12, 2016


12 DECEMBER 2016

The proposed amendment to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 to put a stop to unilateral conversions of minor children to Islam is timely and a welcome move by the government. The conversion of such children without the knowledge and/or consent by the non-converted parent violates the constitutional rights to equality of that parent and the rights of the child under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ('CRC') to which Malaysia is a signatory. These conversions have caused immense suffering and expense to many families in the past and it is hoped that the amendments to the law will prevent such cases in future.

There have been conflicting views and court decisions on the meaning of ‘parent’ in Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution which provides: "For the purposes of Clause (3), the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian" even though the 11th schedule of the Constitution states that "words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular".

The proposed amendment to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 inserts Section 88A, a new section which makes clear that both parents in a civil marriage must agree to the conversion of a minor into Islam. The section also provides that the child will remain in the religion practised by the parents at the time the marriage was registered, and may choose his own religion on reaching the age of 18. This amendment will serve to preserve and protect the freedom of a person to choose his or her own religion, and is indeed a positive and progressive move.

The announcement last week that the government will amend Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution will also help to make it clear and certain that the consent of both parents is required for conversion of minor children. This is consistent with the proposed amendment to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 and will remove any doubt or ambiguity once and for all.

In Sarawak, the Majlis Islam Sarawak Ordinance 2001 in s 69 allows the conversion into Muslim of a person who has not reached the age of 18, ‘if … his parent or guardian consents to the conversion’ or ‘jika … ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya mengizinkan pemelukan agama Islam olehnya.’ I believe this provision is unconstitutional as explained above, and the move by the Perlis state assembly to introduce such a provision into their state enactment was incorrect, unwise and regressive.

I fully support the call by the Association of Churches for the Sarawak government to amend the Majlis Islam Sarawak Ordinance to be in tandem with the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act once amended, and to bring it in line with the constitutional guarantees which is the entitlement of every citizen of Malaysia.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan

Friday, December 9, 2016

Show proof of SOP compliance, See says

See Chee How 

KUCHING: Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How has challenged the state Forest Department to open its books on the approval and issuance of Occupation Tickets (OT) for scrutiny on whether there was compliance with the department’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

See, who is state PKR vice- chairman, said this was to show that the state Forest Department had nothing to hide in safeguarding and conserving the state’s valuable but depleting timber resources and the environment.

“I am not only disappointed, but appalled by the (state Forest) Department’s shifty and evasive reply,” he said yesterday.

The state Forest Department, in its statement on Wednesday, described See’s allegation that the number of OT licences it issued had increased by three fold as “totally wrong and misleading”. Additionally, the state Forest Department claimed that See had apparently or deliberately misinterpreted the figure given in his media statement.

The department explained that the total number of 109, 100 and 42 OT licences issued in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively were in fact accumulative total number of licences that remained valid in those particular years.

The department also reiterated that to date, only 42 OT licences were valid for Native Customary Rights (NCR) land compared to 100 licences last year, adding: “Therefore, this clearly shows a reduction in numbers. For information, only 12 new OT licences were issued this year.”

See said it was the joint statement given by the permanent secretary of Resource Planning and Environment Ministry Datu Sudarsono Osman and the director of Forests, Sapuan Ahmad on Monday that disclosed that 251 OTs were issued after Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem assumed the office of the Chief Minister and the Minister of Resource Planning and Environment.

“And the emphasis of my statement was to call for an inquiry and verification into their SOP compliance, to ensure that his (Adenan’s) ministerial directives were not flouted.”

See said he gave due acknowledgement to the fact that 67 of the OTs issued in 2014 had expired and or were terminated in 2015 as revealed by the state Forest Department, similarly the 102 OTs being issued in 2015 and 42 this year.

“The question remains: Whether there is SOP compliance in the issuance of the OTs, or were there flouting of the Chief Minister’s good directives to combat illegal logging and to safeguard and conserve our forest resources and environment.

“It is not an issue that there are only 42 OTs current and operational.”

In view of the state Forest Department’s strong and serious accusation made against him, See was now giving the department 24 hours to revisit the issuance of the OT licence for more than 4,000 hectares of land within the Spali Land District in Kanowit, and make a public statement to affirm that the issuance of that particular OT was in accordance with the laws, rules, regulations and the SOP, and that it was not issued in defiance or evading the Chief Minister’s clear directives.

“As it concerns the Chief Minister’s clear directives over land and forest resources which are primarily state matters, I am hopeful that the state is capable of handling any wrongdoing, misfeasance and/or breach of fiduciary duties of the officials ourselves. But I will not hesitate to advise the parties to forward their complaints and evidence to the relevant authorities for investigation and actions.”

In responding to the statement made by Assistant Minister of Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh on Wednesday that there was no necessity for an independent inquiry to conduct an investigation into the SOP compliance by the state Forest Department, See said that the experienced former state director of forests should be objective with the matter and be the first to offer assistance to look into the SOP compliance when the allegation of flouting of ministerial directives was first brought out.

“With his wealth of experience and knowledge as the former state director of forests, not least being the architect in preparing the five-volume SOP, the honourable assistant minister will be able to assist in the investigation, to pin-point the weaknesses in the SOP and improve on it.”

Being fellow members of the State Legislative Assembly and sharing the same concerns for the safeguard and conservation of the environment and natural resources, See said he would be most happy to work with Len Talif to investigate this matter and make suggestions to improve on the SOP and legislatures to “better protect and conserve our forest, timber resources and environment”.

“Surely, the Chief Minister and the state government are serious with the administrative integrity and good governance that they propagated. In view of the fact that our state’s policies on environment, forest and timber resource management are constantly under intense international scrutiny and criticism, I strongly urge that this matter be dealt with immediately.”

~ Borneo Post

NGOs fear 'witch hunt', not the law, Nur Jazlan told

Published     Updated

The ongoing investigations on NGOs over foreign funding is a cause for concern because these are being done in bad faith, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) says.

LFL executive director Eric Paulsen said today there have been cases where individuals were detained without trial and investigated under terrorism laws, among other forms of intimidation.

Moreover, said Paulsen, there appears to be a different set of rules on foreign funding when it comes to the government and BN.

"It is therefore reasonable for NGOs not to trust the investigating authorities as clearly they are out on a fishing expedition, to look for improbable evidence to support their reckless claims of 'foreign funded agenda to topple the government' or 'activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy'," Paulsen said in a statement.

Paulsen said this in response to Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who said the NGOs under investigation had nothing to fear if they had nothing to hide.

Several NGOs, including electoral reforms pressure group Bersih, human rights watchdogs Suaram and LFL, were called in by the police for fresh rounds of questioning this week over funding related matters.

No laws to ban foreign funding

They were called in days after Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the Umno general assembly that the government would be taking action on dissidents funded by outsiders .

Paulsen said that there currently was no law to criminalise foreign funding for governments, NGOs or business entities.
"To portray otherwise is of course ludicrous as the government has been receiving foreign funds or aid for decades from multiple international sources," the lawyer added.
Instead of going after NGOs, Paulsen said, Nur Jazlan should order the authorities to turn their attention to providing a transparent account on the RM2.6 billion donation received by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in 2013.

"(Nur Jazlan) should not take the easy way out by claiming the authorities have investigated the matter or that the attorney-general has cleared the PM as such explanation lacks credibility," he said.
Paulsen also called on Nur Jazlan to explain the alleged financial assistance sought from China with regard to 1MDB, as reported by the UK's Financial Times yesterday.

Who's telling the truth about M'sia's Pisa 2015 scores?

Published     Updated

Yesterday, DAP's Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming claimed Malaysia was not featured in the rankings for Mathematics, Reading and Science in the Programme for International Student Assessment 2015 (Pisa 2015) report.

Then, the Education Ministry issued a statement, insisting that Malaysia did indeed appear in the report.

So, who's telling the truth and who's not?

In simple words, both are correct: Malaysia did appear in the Pisa 2015 report, but it was not ranked with the other countries due to bungled data submitted.

Here's a breakdown of what happened.

How did it start?

It began with Education Ministry deputy director-general Amin Senin proudly announcing that Malaysia had improved its performance in Pisa 2015 on Wednesday.

He pointed out Malaysia's score for Mathematics had increased from 404 to 421 while the score for Reading improved from 398 to 414 and Science from 420 to 422 as compared to Pisa 2012.

What did DAP MP Ong Kian Ming say?

Ong poured cold water on the boast, claiming that Malaysia was not ranked as Malaysia's data only had a 51 percent response rate from schools, therefore it did not meet the minimum 85 percent requirement by Pisa.

He also speculated that the 51 percent response rate may be skewed to high performing schools, therefore giving an impression that Malaysia's performance had improved even though the data is not representative of the whole country.

How did the Education Ministry respond?

The Education Ministry pointed out that the Pisa 2015 results, published by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), appeared in the Pisa 2015 Initial Report Volume 1 (Excellence and Equity in Education) and Volume 2 (Policies and Practices in Excellent Schools).
"Malaysia's results were reported in both the Pisa 2015 reports.

"Malaysia's results can be found in the figures of the report as well as in the tables in the annexes," it said in a statement.

A check by Malaysiakini found that Malaysia was absent from page 44 of the Pisa 2015 Results Volume 1 (Excellence and Equity in Education), which displayed the mean score for Science, Reading and Mathematics.

Malaysia did receive a mean score but when it appeared in figures from page 320 to page 442, it was isolated in a separate category because the data could not be used for comparison.

The report explained in Annex A4 on page 304, which concerned quality assurance of the data.
It stated: "In Malaysia, the Pisa assessment was conducted in accordance with the operational standards and guidelines of the OECD.

"However, the weighted response rate among the initially sampled Malaysian schools (51 percent) falls well short of the standard Pisa response rate of 85 percent.

"Therefore, the results may not be comparable to those of other countries or to results for Malaysia from previous years."

You can find the report here.

So, the Education Ministry was also right that Malaysia did appear in the report.
But Malaysia's score, as clearly stated in the report, may not be comparable to previous results so the Education Ministry's boast of improving performance is not accurate.
The Education Ministry in its statement did acknowledge that its data to Pisa only achieved the required school response rate.

But it stated that the data for students was accepted as 8,661 of students out of a sample of 9,660 students responded and it was therefore considered representative.

It added that OECD had identified weaknesses in the computer-based reporting system and improvements would be introduced for the Pisa 2018 report.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016 worst year for human rights since Ops Lallang, says activist

Geraldine Tong     Published     Updated

This year was the worst year for human rights in Malaysia since Operation Lallang in 1987, said Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong.

“The detention without trial of (Bersih chairperson) Maria Chin Abdullah and other human rights defenders brings me memories of Ops Lallang,” Kua said at the launch of Suaram’s 2016 human rights report in Malaysia held in Kuala Lumpur today.

Operation Lallang was a major crackdown in 1987 on those seen to be government dissidents, with over 100 politicians and activists arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The ISA has since been repealed under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Kua was one of those arrested under ISA during Ops Lallang.

He further said that such abuses of human rights only happen when the government is beleaguered.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration was beleaguered in 1987, he said, because he was being challenged by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and his Team B.

Now, the government is also beleaguered since the US Department of Justice announced their civil forfeiture lawsuit against several people involved in the 1MDB scandal, such as the Malaysian Official 1 (MO1)

“(MO1) is beleaguered in all the world.

“When he is in a state of siege, he will resort to these measures to stay in power,” Kua said.

Meanwhile, Suaram said their documentation revealed there was a total of 475 people arrested under laws which allow for detention without trial this year.

The three laws whose statistics they documented are Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

Suaram also noted that crackdown on freedom of expression in Malaysia was still prevalent.

While the application of the Sedition Act seems to have eased up, they said the Communication and Multimedia Act (CMA) has been increasingly used against the general public.

Freedom of movement was also an issue this year, they said, especially in the run-up to the Sarawak state elections in April, where a number of opposition politicians and activists were banned from traveling to the state.

Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and political cartoonist Zunar were also banned from travelling internationally this year, they noted.

Malaysia’s human rights record weak, says report

 | December 8, 2016

Freedom of Thought Report by human rights group cites 'government figures or state agencies which openly marginalise, harass, or incite hatred'.
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia continues to be a “violator” of human rights, including the freedom of thought and expression, coming under serious assault, according to this year’s Freedom of Thought Report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).

“Malaysia rates very badly with ethnic Malays subjected to strict state controls over an enforced, homogenous religious identity, including mandatory shariah laws, and in two states hudud enactments mandating death for ‘apostasy’,” the report stated giving the country a “5” rating for the category of “Freedom of Expression, Advocacy of Humanist Values” – with 5 being the lowest rating.

According to the report published earlier this week, the two states with the “death” penalty for the crime of apostasy are Kelantan and Terengganu, with both governments having passed hudud enactments in 1993 and 2002, respectively.

However, in March last year, Kelantan had passed an amendment to the 1993 enactment, prescribing a jail sentence, should an apostate repent, with the death penalty still possible if such an apostate refuses to repent.

IHEU acknowledges however, that no one has been convicted of apostasy under this shariah law and that according to a 1993 statement by the attorney-general, such a ruling could not be enforced in either state without a constitutional amendment.

That is part of the reason behind the constitutional amendment to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang in the Dewan Rakyat under a Private Member’s Bill earlier this year.

The IHEU also gave Malaysia a “5” rating for the category of “Family, Community and Society”, with the emphasis being on “government figures or state agencies which openly marginalise, harass, or incite hatred or violence against the non-religious”.

IHEU cited a speech by Prime Minister Najib Razak, where he labelled “humanism, secularism and liberalism” as dangerous threats to Islam and the state.

“They call it human rightism, where the core beliefs are based on humanism and secularism as well as liberalism.

“It’s deviationist in that it glorifies the desires of man alone and rejects any value system that encompasses religious norms and etiquettes. They do this on the premise of championing human rights,” he had reportedly said in his speech at the opening of the 57th national Quran Recital Assembly in May 2014.

Meanwhile, Malaysia was rated “4” for “severe discrimination” in the other two categories of “Constitution and Government” and “Education and Children’s Rights”.

In the former category, IHEU cited the government’s ban on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims in Malay-language Bibles and other Christian publications, and its selective application to human rights.

“Malaysia has a narrow conception of human rights, having signed only two of the eight legally enforceable human rights treaties derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

“Even then the state asserts constitutional exemptions to these treaties and to the UDHR itself, asserting that only ‘those fundamental liberties provided for’ in the Constitution will be upheld, thus rendering its signature to the UDHR essentially an empty gesture,” IHEU said.

Malaysia registered an overall score of 4.5 in the IHEU’s Freedom of Thought Report for this year. Among its neighbours, only Indonesia (4.5) and Brunei (4.75) fared the same or worse.

Cambodia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste were all given an overall rating of 3.

The IHEU Freedom of Thought Report has been compiled since 2012, and is based on the submissions of members of IHEU, a worldwide umbrella of humanist, atheist, secular and similar organisations.

~ Free Malaysia Today

Report: China to be 1MDB’s new white knight in dispute with IPIC

Published     Updated

China will reportedly assist 1MDB in making a repayment to International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) amid a US$6.5 billion dispute between the Malaysian and Abu Dhabi state-owned funds.

According to the Financial Times, three people with knowledge of the matter said China was approached as a source of funds for 1MDB.

It added that one source said Malaysia would swap assets for financing.

The claim cannot be independently verified by Malaysiakini.

According to the report, 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy in response to the claim, said the Malaysian fund “does not have anything further to add to previous statements in relation to the ongoing dispute with IPIC”.

In May last year, IPIC was in a similar position as China, having emerged as a “white knight” for 1MDB, which was struggling to repay a US$975 million loan.

This was after a consortium of banks led by Deutsche Bank demanded early repayment from 1MDB due to “incomplete securitisation documents”.

As part of a bailout deal, IPIC in June last year extended a US$1 billion loan to 1MDB to settle the outstanding loan with Deutsche Bank and its consortium partners.

The deal was to hammer out a subsequent debt-for-asset swap to settle around US$3.5 billion of 1MDB’s debt.

However, by August that year, reports emerged that IPIC was planning to pull out from the deal.

This coincided with the sacking of IPIC's subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS chief executive officer Mohamed Badawy Al Husseiny the same month, following the resignation of IPIC chairperson Khadem al-Qubaisi in April last year.

Both men were later implicated by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as having facilitated in allegedly siphoning at least US$3.5 billion of funds from 1MDB, along with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak step-son Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz and Penang-born billionaire Jho Low.

It was later revealed deals IPIC entered with 1MDB prior to the bailout deal were also amiss, amid an international money laundering investigation.

This included the US$3.5 billion diversion of 1MDB's funds intended for IPIC's subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS to a British Virgin Islands company bearing a similar name but unrelated to IPIC - Aabar Investments PJS Limited.

‘Defaulted on coupon payments’

Furthermore, 1MDB defaulted on coupon payments on two bonds totalling US$3.5 billion which were guaranteed by IPIC, forcing the Abu Dhabi fund to pick up the tab instead.

It culminated with IPIC taking Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance Incorporated and 1MDB to the London Court of International Arbitration in June, seeking US$6.5 billion in claims.

While the bailout deal with IPIC was disintegrating, 1MDB was selling off its assets to China to cope with its massive debts which totalled almost US$13 billion at its peak.

In December last year, 1MDB sold a 60 percent stake in Bandar Malaysia to a consortium comprising Johor-based Iskandar Waterfront Holdings and Beijing-owned China Railway Engineering Corporation for RM7.42 billion.
A month before that, 1MDB sold its energy assets holding company Edra Global Energy to China General Nuclear Power Corp for RM9.38 billion.
Putrajaya has increasingly pivoted to China following the US Department of Justice investigation into 1MDB as the misappropriated funds were allegedly laundered through the US financial system.

Najib, in a commentary piece in China Daily during his visit to China in November criticised “former colonial powers”, telling them not to lecture other countries.

In an immediate reaction, Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani told Malaysiakini that he is unaware if China is being approached over the matter.
While 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy asked that his statement to Financial Times, declining to comment further be referred to.